Bettinger awarded Distinguished Service to Journalism Award

Jim Bettinger, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships director emeritus, is being recognized for his leadership and service to journalism by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California chapter.

Bettinger, who recently retired from the fellowships at Stanford after 27 years, is receiving the SPJ NorCal board of directors’ Distinguished Service to Journalism Award. After a career in newspapers, he joined the JSK Fellowships program, first as deputy director in 1989 and was then named director in 2000.

“I am honored, and humbled, by this award,” Bettinger said. “Since I got my first byline nearly 50 years ago, I’ve believed in the power of journalism. I still do.”

Beginning in 2007, Bettinger led the program to respond to the dramatic changes in journalism by refocusing the program to emphasize journalism innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.

“As digital disruption, media consolidation and the failure of the newspaper advertising business model hit hard about 10 years ago, many fellowships did the easy thing: maintain the status quo,” said Dawn Garcia, JSK Fellowships Director. “But Jim knew that as good as our fellowship was, we had to change, and in a substantive way, to remain relevant to journalism and journalists.”

Garcia said she was proud to work with Bettinger to help transform the JSK Fellowships “from a very good sabbatical-year program into an even stronger one that champions innovators, grows change agents and develops leaders focusing on reinventing and improving journalism.”

The SPJ chapter is also honoring another member of the JSK Fellowships family: 1984 fellowship alumni Pete Carey, a longtime investigative and business reporter at the Mercury News in San Jose. Carey retired last spring after nearly 49 years at the Mercury News. He was awarded the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for stories about Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Carey covered Silicon Valley since its early days as a technology hub. He will receive the SPJ’s Career Achievement Award.

Top winners of the 2016 SPJ awards include Shane Bauer of Mother Jones, who was named Journalist of the Year for his investigation into private prisons. A few months after his series was published, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would stop contracting with private prisons.

The winners will be honored at SPJ NorCal’s 31st Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the City Club in San Francisco.